I suppose this post could be categorized under “Gramma’s Guide to Textese,” since I want to address two terms commonly used in texting that make me uncomfortable.
The first term is LOL. So far I’ve never actually had an occasion to use it. While I am frequently amused by things I read in email, in a chat, or on Twitter, they never make me laugh out loud, and it just seems dishonest to acknowledge the humor with LOL. Whenever I read that familiar trio of letters in response to something I have posted, I am tempted to reply, “Really? It didn’t seem that funny to me.”
I would genuinely like to know how often LOL expresses a literal truth. Through my intimate acquaintance with Lynette, Kelly, Bob, and others, I have learned that there are many people who do indeed LOL over almost anything. Those are the people who stand-up comics want in the audience. I, on the other hand, identify with the scowling curmudgeon I saw years ago in a New Yorker cartoon. He answered two bewildered people with the caption, “Just because I’m not laughing, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get it!” And in my case, a failure to laugh doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not amused. I just don’t LOL easily, and I never do so when I am alone reading–whether from a book, magazine, or computer screen.
In solitude I might smile, perhaps even broadly. In company the degree of my amusement is directly proportional to the depth of the curve in my smile, but more often than not that amusement is silent. For me, laughing out loud is a special communal experience that requires two elements: excessive amusement and someone I trust. In the company of the beloved, the silliest joke can suddenly explode into an irresistible wave of laughter that grows and crests and finally breaks, leaving in its wake helpless victims holding sides and wiping eyes. Then with just a look or a word the flow can start all over again.
That is LOL to me. I can’t use it lightly. Still, I need some way to communicate via social media that I appreciate humor whenever I see it. So I have decided to introduce my own acronym: TIF for That Is Funny. Sometimes I may even think “very” and make it TIVF.
It is important to respond appropriately because behind every email, behind every line in a chat, and behind every tweet is a real person with feelings. And the relationships we develop with other people have eternal value and eternal consequences. The ability to form relationships and share humor is part of the image of God that all humans carry whether they recognize it or not.
It is because I do recognize that I bear God’s image, and because He has made it possible for me to have a relationship with Him that I am uncomfortable with the second texting term. Each time I see OMG, I am compelled to mentally add ITIT to relieve my distress. But that is the subject for another post.